How My Boots Got Sober

Art by Chis Doehling, click image to visit site
Art by Chis Doehling, click image to visit site

Once upon time, if you had foraged through my messy closet long enough, you would have come upon my small collection of tall boots. And if you happened to peek inside, you’d have discovered they were harboring small bottles of alcohol.

The reason my boots were so thirsty is that they belonged to a secret drunk (that would be me) who thought they made a good hiding place.

For twelve long years, I was determined to keep the truth from my husband and the rest of the world about the real extent of my drinking. Caught in an endless cycle of shame and remorse, I couldn’t understand how a good wife and mother, not to mention a writer of books about prayer and parenting, became a closet drunk.

Then one day came surrender. Then came the excruciating step into the light. Then came reaching out for help. Then came a new recovery community and hope. Then came grace and a bigger idea of how God works in the world.

These days, my boots are empty unless my feet are in them (ergo, the tag line of my blog). Even better, my husband buys me a new pair of Frye boots for my sober anniversary every year—a big savings over the thousands I spent yearly on alcohol. J

But by far the best part of being sober these past 7 years is that I get to share the good news of recovery with others. So what I really hope is that you’ll stay a while and talk back to me, since if you found this blog, I suspect that we have something in common.

If you shop too much, drink too much, eat too much, crush on men who aren’t your husband, or otherwise fixate on some activity or substance in a way that you don’t like but can’t stop, it’s easy to think you’re alone. If you follow Jesus, you might worry that you’re the only one sitting in church who is craving something other than God.

You’re not, of course. In fact, you’re among a whole crowd of us who sometimes wonder: Where do I turn for hope when I already have the answer (God), but it isn’t working?

Once I became involved in a 12 Step recovery program, I had more questions, like: What is it about the spirituality of recovery that seems to work where traditional religious approaches so often don’t? Why do the concepts of recovery sound so familiar, and yet I have never experienced anything like this before?

If you resonate with any of these questions, you might like this blog. And you could also be my friend. Especially if…

  • You’re an addict of any kind (frivolous obsessions like pumpkin ice cream or Fry boots count, too).
  • You like boots. Or you like books. Or you like people who wear boots and love books.
  • You believe in God’s goodness, mercy and grace even though you are frequently baffled by the unloving behavior of some who purport to follow him.
  • You like to engage in unconventional conversations about spirituality, God, or faith which could occasionally be construed as irreverent or risky by rigidly religious people.
  • You have friends, or want to have more friends, who are very different from you and who often challenge your thinking.
  • You don’t mind hanging out with people like me–who don’t drink anymore but truly don’t mind if you do.

These days, I don’t write new posts very often, but there are more than 250 here to explore. For more on my story, be sure to check out my book.

Thanks for visiting!



Author: Heather Kopp at

Heather Kopp is an author and blogger who writes about the intersection of addiction and faith. Her memoir about her recovery, Sober Mercies, was published by Jericho, a new imprint of HBG (Hachette Book Group) in Spring 2013.

19 thoughts on “How My Boots Got Sober”

  1. That line about despair…my son was arrested today. He is my oldest..1 of 7. 4 children….mess upon chaotic mess…I am slipping tonight


  2. a soberversary is special and congratulations on yours! I understand that bittersweet feeling so well because I remember how dark and cold it was before my own spring (well, technically my soberversary is in August so it was more like suffering the depths of hell before getting drenched in a cool river, but you know what I mean). That collision that you’re talking about still amazes me and I thank God everyday for giving me a life that allows me to fully appreciate the light and the dark.


  3. Thanks for this, Heather. My heart aches for many reasons today…and I pray for the growth and hope of spring to come and stick around…not getting dashed by a quick return of a torturous winter. So glad you have an anniversary to celebrate and contemplate.


  4. I loved reading this, and I am looking forward to some daffodils and brightness in my life now. As I typed that, literally, the sun came out from behind a cloud. Crisp shadows on the ground only highlight to me that the sun has returned. Maybe there is reason to hope.

    I would like to hear your husband’s side of the story. I feel like quitting – and he didn’t. Maybe there is something there for me to learn.


    1. I’m so sorry I missed this comment. Now I didn’t. Thank you. And I do have a post that’s a Q and A with Dave, but that’s not the whole story, of course. Turns out we’re going to start doing some speaking together I hope, because he does have a story! My, my.


  5. What a poignant, hope-filled story. Aren’t you glad you’re on this side of it looking back? Your bunch of daffodils mirrors the clusters I have springing up in my yard (sometimes in random, surprising places, thanks to the little critters of our underground world). After reading this, I will see them as reminders of the hope that we all desperately need. I’ve been married 31+ years. My qualifier and I had our first real, deep, totally honest, long conversation this weekend. If nothing else, it points to the possibility of change for the better. And just for today, that’s enough. Thank you Heather.


    1. Sam, thanks so much for this honest, touching comment. You’re right! And yes, I am so glad to be looking back. In fact, when I dug it out of my archives to rerun it, reading it made me so grateful. It hit me hard all over again how kind God is and how there is always hope. Yes, for you and your qualifier, too. Sending a prayer your way, friend. Hugs. H


  6. Thank you Heather, that was so beautiful. And even though I know the story because I have read Sober Mercies three times, I still can’t hear it enough. It speaks so clearly to the pain and yet the promise of hope. Just like the Easter story! Keep letting God use you, please!!


  7. Hello Heather,

    I kind of understand this ache, but for different reasons. A year ago, today, my youngest daughter found her two beloved dogs dismembered on a train track in Montana. Fifteen days from now, on tax day, it will be the one year anniversary of Ryan’s death. Was it suicide? We will not know in this life. But, when I think of the desperation that drove him to the attitude of “I don’t care,” which is necessary to play Russian roulette, I ache. I ache for my daughter’s loss and the images that will never leave her mind, and I ache for my lost foster son. I know I am a fixer, and I know while he was with us he was clean and sober, but I couldn’t fix him for good. Only he and God, could do that, and it didn’t happen.

    In the meantime, I have two major reactions to life….KILL!!! or CRY!! Today, is a crying day.



    1. Nancy, your comments always get to me. I am resonating with your pain and I wish life and death made more sense on this side of eternity. I think that phrase “attitude of I don’t care” is fitting for so many. Countless young men these days can’t think of a reason to haul themselves out of bed. They don’t feel like they matter or have a purpose, which seems to me like the biggest tragedy of all, and it’s probably the most pervasive. Sending hugs to you today, Heather


  8. Good morning, Heather.

    I know exactly how you feel. I have the same experience around my anniversary date as well. Funny thing is lately I have those familiar feelings a little more frequently; when there are awesome events taking place in my life and I realize that I wouldn’t be having these emotions or experiences if I wasn’t sober. A wonderful example of that is just last week I found out that I’m going to have a second grand baby! In the beginning of my sobriety my son and his then new wife weren’t speaking to me because I had burnt so many bridges which were mostly during blackouts. Today I am building a wonderful relationship with both of them AND my precious grandson, Caleb!

    Love you Heather and so glad you’re back!


    1. I love your point here. We get to feel these feelings, good and bad and all mixed up, too. That ache is a gift if I can lean into it. Thanks so much for sharing about how your recovery is bringing restoration and hope. So love to hear this kind of story. Bless you, friend.


  9. I’m so glad you were brave that day. I often say our body remembers what our mind forgets. I have those rubber band moments, the ones my body pulls me back to that remind me of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. I’m grateful they are consistent like Spring, reminding me that redemption is sure, not wishful thinking. Hugs to you.


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